When All-Star Zach LaVine was forced to leave the Chicago Bulls‘ January 14 bout with the Warriors due to injury, fans were undoubtedly asking themselves, “Why us?” Between injuries and COVID-19, there’s nary a player on the Bulls’ roster who hasn’t missed games this season.
Even now, multiple players have been watching from the sidelines (or quarantine) as the team has stumbled to four losses in its last five games.
However, one of the club’s key cogs looks ready to make his return this week after a lengthy absence, and another may be hot on his heels.
On Sunday, starting guard Alex Caruso officially cleared health and safety protocols. Meanwhile, fill-in starter Javonte Green is seemingly progressing toward a return to play as well.
Caruso & Green Assigned to the Windy City Bulls
Per an announcement from the club on Monday, both Caruso and Green have been assigned to Chicago’s G League affiliate, the Windy City Bulls.
It’s difficult to say whether either player will actually play in a game for Windy City. The team is scheduled to host Raptors 905 on Tuesday night, but the Bulls duo may just have been reassigned in order to get more practice/rehab time. In any case, both ballers will benefit from the extra work.
For his part, Caruso hasn’t appeared in a game since December 20 when he sprained his foot (before the Covid stay).
Although he’s now free of protocols, he’ll have to ramp up to an actual return to play. Conditioning is always a concern post-Covid and, between that and his initial injury, the fifth-year guard will have been gone for almost a month by the time he suits up again.
Green, meanwhile, has been out with a groin strain since New Year’s Eve. It was expected that he would miss two to four weeks of action, but his assignment here would seem to indicate that he’s getting closer to a comeback.
Both Players Have Been Important Pieces for Chicago
Caruso may not grab headlines with his play, but he has nonetheless played an integral part in the Bulls’ surprising success this season. Through 26 games, he has averaged 8.4 points, 4.0 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 2.0 steals per contest. Meanwhile, his effective field-goal percentage of 53.4 is the best mark of his career.
His net rating of 8.4 is also the top mark on the team among major minute-getters (400+ MP).
As for Green, the 6-foot-4 wing has performed admirably as a replacement for injured power forward Patrick Williams. In 29 games, 18 of which were starts, he’s averaging 5.8 points and 4.2 rebounds per game while shooting 36.4% from deep. Like Caruso, he, too, has been a plus/minus maven, checking in with a net rating of 7.6.